Articles, Loc Care & Styles

Neutrogena The Anti-Residue Shampoo – Discontinued

3 images, on the ends are 2 blue question marks and in the middle is neutrogena anti residue shampoo. Underneath the shampoo is text that reads Alternatives, Neutrogena Anti-Residue Discontinued

The Anti-Residue Shampoo was and is one of my (and countless others’) favorite shampoos. It’s cleansing, but not striping. With its gentle lather, subtle scent, affordable price and formulation clear of color additives, what is not to like? The main thing not to like is that it is gone! But why was The Anti-Residue Shampoo discontinued? And is there a good replacement? Read below for answers – of which include DMDM hydantoin.

What the Heck is DMDM Hydantoin

image of bottle with clear liquid and some clear liquid on a table. mean to represent DMDM Hydantion

DMDM hydantoin is a common preservative found in cosmetic products used to help extend shelf life. Per webmd, “The chemical stops or slows down the growth of potentially harmful fungi, yeast, and bacteria.” The common ingredient is found in trace amounts in foods like apples and spinach.

That all sounds fine, so where is the problem and how does it relate to your favorite shampoo being discontinued? The answer is that the preservative is formaldehyde-releasing – meaning trace amounts of formaldehyde release over time. Formaldehyde in certain concentrations can cause contact dermatitis and irritation. In high amounts it is also listed as a probable carcinogen. 

Neutrogena’s Anti Residue Shampoo contains DMDM hydantoin.

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DMDM Hydantoin, Lawsuits & Neutrogena

stack of paperwork meant to represent lawsuits regarding dmdm hydantion

While no case has been filed against Neutrogena regarding DMDM hydantoin, in December 2020 a lawsuit was filed by two women (Lipetz et al v. Unilever United States, Inc. et al). In it they (and others that joined the class action lawsuit) claimed that DMDM hydantoin could cause hair loss and Unilever (corporation that owns TRESemmé) didn’t disclose this on relevant TRESemmé product(s). Please note that there are no studies linking DMDM hydantoin to hair loss or thinning in the concentrations used in cosmetics. It is a possibility, but nothing has been proven to say isn’t safe.

“The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR), an independent expert scientific panel established by the Personal Care Products Council, also has evaluated the scientific data and concluded that DMDM hydantoin is safe as a cosmetic ingredient at current levels of use –  0.074 percent, or less.”

Chemical Safety Facts

As for the lawsuit, these women don’t claim to have undergone dermatological patch testing as well, which would help determine if they were allergic DMDM hydantoin. In fact, they don’t claim to have suffered hair loss as a result of the DMDM hydantoin specifically either. Just that they believe DMDM hydantoin can cause hair loss and that if they knew that, they wouldn’t have bought the product and/or believe the product would be worth less.

Did The Lawsuit Have Merit?

It still is possible these women had their hair fall out due to TRESemmé’s product(s). However, it is difficult to say the culprit was specifically DMDM hydantoin. Correlation does not equal causation. Stress and illness for example are two causes of delayed hair loss – meaning the hair loss occurs sometime after the causal event. Thus, you may attribute hair loss to new product use when it could be coincidental. That is why rigorous trials are important for determining causal effects.

However, as an outsider, I don’t think these women were wrong for filing these lawsuits. If I had hair loss/thinning and believed it was a result of a product, I would want to sue too! Corporations aren’t exactly known for keeping consumers’ best interests at heart. Thus, it isn’t a stretch that a corporation could be misleading in their claims to make money. 

Overall, the lawsuit was dismissed in March 2022, but allowed for the possibility of the plaintiff’s to file an amended consolidated complaint. Furthermore, a separate suit was filed by another group of people against J&J (Whipple v. Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc.) in regards to DMDM hydantoin and hair loss concerns as well in June 2021. 

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Controversy & Fall Out: Why Neutrogena’s The Anti-Residue Shampoo was Discontinued?

Neutrogena Shampoo nati residue bottle

Not long after the cases were first filed, there was an explosion of discourse online listing products that contain DMDM hydantoin to avoid and ones without that are presumably safe. In the court of public opinion, the claim of hair loss caused by DMDM hydantoin was taken as fact. 

Neutrogena never released a statement as to why they discontinued the very popular product, but context clues point to this lawsuit as a likely culprit. It doesn’t matter if the product is safe, all that matters is perception for brands. Thus, discontinuing the product is an easy way to avoid controversy. In fact, TRESemmé stopped selling products with DMDM hydantoin during the course of the Unilever lawsuit.

Some other facts that point to this as being the reason are the posts calling out The Anti-Residue Shampoo specifically. VikingVision notes the shampoo is a product containing DMDM hydantoin and references the TRESemmé lawsuit. The Anti-Residue Shampoo is also the first product that comes up in this anti-DMDM hydantoin tiktok with over 2.5m views and counting. 

Neutrogena’s Current Shampoos & DMDM Hydantoin

Another clue on DMDM hydantoin being the reason the product is discontinued, is that currently, none of the shampoos Neutrogena has in stock on their website have DMDM hydantoin anymore. There are 7 shampoos that show up as of 8/21/2022. Significantly, none of the shampoos in stock have DMDM hydantoin. However, they haven’t been discontinued though, so it is possible they could come back. Of the 4 shampoos that have been discontinued, 3 of them contain DMDM hydantoin.

Product Name DMDM Hydantoin as IngredientIn Stock, Out of Stock or Discontinued
T/Sal® Therapeutic Shampoo-Scalp Build-Up ControlNoIn Stock
Neutrogena® Healthy Scalp Soothing with Tea Tree Oil ShampooNoIn Stock
Neutrogena® Healthy Scalp Gentle & Soft with Micellar Water ShampooNoIn Stock
T/Gel® Therapeutic Shampoo-Original FormulaYesOut of Stock
T/Gel® Therapeutic Shampoo-Extra StrengthYesOut of Stock
Neutrogena® Healthy Scalp Hydro Boost with Hyaluronic Acid ShampooNoOut of Stock
Neutrogena® Healthy Scalp Clarify & Shine Shampoo with Pink GrapefruitNoOut of Stock
T/Gel® Therapeutic Shampoo-Stubborn ItchYesDiscontinued
T/Gel Daily Control® 2-in-1 Dandruff Shampoo Plus ConditionerYesDiscontinued
Triple Moisture Cream Lather ShampooNoDiscontinued
The Anti-Residue Shampoo®YesDiscontinued
Table as of 8/21/2022 of Neutrogena Shampoos

Other Reasons Why The Anti-Residue Shampoo was Discontinued?

Of course, given that neither Neutrogena nor any insiders have spoken on the subject, we can’t say with 100% certainty why the shampoo was discontinued. Neutrogena was never implicated in any DMDM hydantoin lawsuit and in fact, they still sell some products (eg., Fresh Foaming Cleanser still in stock along with other products) with DMDM hydantoin. None of the products they currently sell with DMDM hydantoin are shampoos or conditioners, which appear to have received the majority of the blowback. Possibly because the DMDM hydantoin products in stock don’t go on the scalp they weren’t targeted. 

Another reason the shampoo was discontinued could be due to the industry shying away from products with SLS derivatives (Anti-Residue Shampoo contains Sodium Laureth Sulfate). 

Neutrogena’s official response (to me anyway) was that they update their product listings for a variety of reasons.

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Replacements for Neutrogena’s The Anti-Residue Shampoo

In our post-Anti-Residue Shampoo journey, there comes a point where we must move on. Afterall, we still have to wash our locs! So in my research, I found a few alternatives that people like and some that I found to try myself. Ultimately, I looked for similar products at a decent price point, with good clarifying capabilities and yet were gentle enough for frequent use.

This is what I found.

Neutrogena® Healthy Scalp Clarify & Shine Shampoo with Pink Grapefruit

bottle of  Neutrogena®-Healthy-Scalp-Clarify-Shine-Shampoo-with-Pink-Grapefruit.

The first thing I did when looking for alternatives was to search Neutrogena’s listings. This one was the closest in its claim for clarifying. Moreover, there are a number of positive reviews online on it as a replacement and the price point is similar. However, there are 3 differences between the two shampoos that I found as a negative for this contender:

  1. Scent: This shampoo has a pink grapefruit scent. While, The Anti-Residue never claimed to be unscented, it didn’t attempt to emulate anything and was otherwise, more on the neutral side.
  2. Color: The Pink Grapefruit Shampoo is, well, pink. This means unnecessary ingredients were added to color the product that don’t add to the cleaning power. This is not uncommon for shampoos, but in terms of it being a direct comparison, it stands out. 
  3. Main Cleaning Agent: The Pink Grapefruit does not have any SLS derivatives, while Anti-Residue does (SLES). Some may find that a pro for Pink Grapefruit, but for me, I liked the additional cleansing power of the Sodium Lauryl Sulfate in the Anti-Residue and am wary that the Pink Grapefruit Shampoo may not cleanse as well without it.

Suave Essentials Daily Clarifying Shampoo

bottle of Suave Essentials Daily Clarifying Shampoo as an alternative to Neutrogena Anti Residue Shampoo

The price point of this shampoo is excellent – even cheaper than The Anti-Residue Shampoo. However, from the reviews, it does look like there was an unwelcome formula change in the past few years.

As for comparisons with The Anti-Residue Shampoo, this is what I noted:

  1. Scent: There are reviews that the product is highly scented. For that alone, I will (personally) be passing on this one given I am sensitive to scent. 
  2. Color: This Suave shampoo has a light blue color with a few color additives in the ingredients to get there. 
  3. Main Cleaning Agent: The main cleaning agent is Sodium C12-13 Pareth Sulfate. If you are like me, you’d never heard of it before. It is actually quite similar to Sodium Laureth Sulfate (The Anti-Residue Shampoo’s main cleansing agent), except the former is based on synthetic alcohol, while Neutrogena’s SLES is based on a natural lauryl alcohol.

Paul Mitchell Shampoo Two

bottle of Paul Mitchell Shampoo Two as alternative to Neutrogena Anti Residue Shampoo

Personally, this will be my first choice to use after I run out of Anti-Residue Shampoo. I currently use Shampoo Three now on the bulk of my hair (but not my scalp given the high pH of 9). The clarifying power of the Paul Mitchell Three is strong, but it doesn’t dry my hair out. I’m still not willing to use it on my scalp as my go-to wash though. Paul Mitchell Shampoo Two has a more balanced pH level of 5.5, which makes it ideal for more frequent use on your hair/scalp. Thus, I am very excited to try this shampoo out. 

  1. Scent: Paul Mitchel 2 is lemon scented. I find added scent to be a negative for any product, but it is common. 
  2. Color: Similarly to Neutrogena’s Anti-Residue, this shampoo is clear.
  3. Cleaning Agent: Has the same main cleaning agent as Anti-Residue (Sodium Laureth Sulfate).

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Hope that answers all your questions about Neutrogena The Anti-Residue Shampoo being discontinued. It’s always difficult when you think you find a holy grail product, and then it’s gone. Hopefully, Neutrogena will bring back the product (reformulated or not), but if not, give one of the alternatives listed above a try. If you think you know why the shampoo was discontinued or know of any good alternatives, let us know in the comments.

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